Sears Treadmill Saga Notes

Where is my treadmill?Three asides while we wait (and wait and wait) to hear about the fate of our treadmill:

1) My wife has weighed in on her blog regarding the Sears treadmill saga. She focuses on accountability failures and the larger context of worker/management relations:

If we ever do get a treadmill from Sears after the weeks of waiting, getting up early to wait some more, being woken up early just to be reminded that we are still waiting, it’s pretty likely that we will get another robocall asking us how the delivery went (unless it is easier for Sears folk to disable follow-up calls than reminder calls that tell us we’re still waiting). And here is what is to me the worst part of all this. The people we can manage to speak to are limited by the scripts they are required to follow – they have almost no agency in any of this by design. The only people we may be asked to evaluate in any of this are the people who perform the scripts and not the people who write them. The people without power are made accountable rather than the people with power. But if you only choose to ask customers how they were treated by the script-followers you won’t get real feedback about the consumer experience. The systems may be designed that way on purpose, but if that is so it’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

2) I had a brilliant idea. Why don’t the Sears bot and the folks from Independent Voter Research just call each other?

3) The Sears bot only called once this morning, just after 8:00am. Was it something I said? Can I say it again?

[Next installment: Sears Feels the Power of the Press]


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8 Responses to Sears Treadmill Saga Notes

  1. Mike Doughney says:

    I think your wife has hit on an explanation for why I never, ever reply to customer service surveys. I have no way of knowing that whatever I say will be used to do anything other than penalize the employee at the bottom of the pyramid. The people who design the systems and manage those employees will most likely emerge unscathed from any honest evaluation of such a broken enterprise.

    “The people without power are made accountable rather than the people with power.” The description of what it’s like to work in a merchandise warehouse today in this story is an example of exactly that.

    • The problem with that strategy is that many firms penalize employees when the customer does not respond to surveys, or when a substantial fraction of customers don’t respond — their theory is that the customers need to be so impressed that they are motivated to say good things, or else it’s not good enough.

      Or, at least, that’s what salespeople regularly say to me when they sell me stuff.

      • Laura says:

        One of the hilarious things about that type of survey is that employees will beg you to only give them the highest grade: five out of five, ten out of ten. Apparently anything but a “perfect” score is as good as a failing grade to their bosses. Glad my professors didn’t see it that way.

  2. Vic says:

    Why are you still waiting for this? Why haven’t you cancelled the order, or demanded an upgrade treadmill delivered NOW at the same price?

    These are the ONLY two things you should be doing at this point. Sitting around waiting for things to happen is just silly. Cancel/upgrade or move on. How much is all your time and trouble worth? Do you really want to spend MORE of it? People other than Sears sell treadmills and whatever savings you are enjoying from Sears doesn’t really sound very enjoyable, does it?

    Seriously, you are letting them play you for a victim. Don’t let them.

  3. Paul Contreras says:

    Hi Michael,

    Sorry to hear about the decline of service and reliability in the US of A. It is a shock every time I go back for a visit – too spoiled here, I guess, service-wise.

    As you know, in Japan, service is top notch here.

    Go to any major department store here and you will find several clerks to assist you.

    In this situation, you would have the service staff bowing profusely with genuine apologies for the original damaged machine and replacement delays.

    Hope this gets resolved to your satisfaction soon.


  4. Mike D. says:


    I am sorry to see that you are still awaiting the reception of your treadmill. Additionally, we realize that the automated calls are only serving to exacerbate this situation. I will forward this post to your case manager and request that you be contacted.


    Mike D.
    Sears Social Media Support

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